10.08.2010

10.06.10 Reviews (Part 2)

Scalped #41 (DC/Vertigo): Man, Jason Aaron and RM Guera don’t pull any punches in that opening scene, do they? It walks a brilliant line between the graphic and the suggestive, reminding me in a way of M. Night Shyamalan’s movie Signs. For the first 90% of the movie, you never even see the aliens, but the creators are able to scare the shit out of you anyway, just with clever anticipation. This issue’s focus is really about all of the strained relationships and various attempts to mend them. You’ve got Wade and Dash with their one thing in common (Gina), Carol and Red Crow, Dash and Carol, etc., with everyone making such a desperate effort to try a little consideration and attempting to break the cycle of bad parenting. I personally always get a lot of enjoyment out of the love/hate Dash/Carol relationship, but the main feature here seems to be Dash and his father Wade. Ultimately, Wade has tons of flaws, but he sure knows his son pretty well. I still love this book, and it’s amazing how every single issue can sing, Aaron’s scripts are intense and sure-footed, never missing their mark. I hope Scalped goes to 100 issues. If I have one small criticism about this particular installment it’s that it’s unavoidably Unwanted: Part 3, smack dab in the middle of an arc, and it does feel like all middle. You can see Aaron systematically pushing all of the various threads forward and that’s all that really occurs from a plot standpoint. The individual scenes are compelling, but the issue itself doesn’t tell much of a story. It’s still done incredibly well and this criticism will fade into nothingness once collected. Grade A-.

Uncanny X-Force #1 (Marvel): I think this series is going to be wildly popular. Rick Remender (The Last Days of American Crime, Fear Agent) and Jerome Opena (Fear Agent) are a powerful creative team. Opena’s thin, sinewy, kinetic lines are bursting with a lean sense of movement. The pencils are aided tremendously by the effect of the inks and colors, which lend a murky sense of moral flexibility that comes across strong visually. Judging by Deadpool’s monologuing, it’s clear he understands the erratic psychosis of the character. Ditto on Fantomex’s narration and the psychological underpinnings that drive it. Ditto the care that Betsy shows for Warren. Ditto the banter between Fantomex and Logan. Remender just gets it. Apocalypse is a great villain for this squad. E.V.A. comes off truly alien. Nice cognac too. Great last page with some indie Easter Eggs. “This is not the X-Men” indeed. Grade A-.

SHIELD #4 (Marvel): It’s a good thing that the recap page exists, because I would not have been able to recall that Sir Isaac Newton murdered Galileo and had enslaved Nostradamus. I remember Leonardo Da Vinci coming back to challenge the status quo, but still can’t really articulate all of the character motivations here. There’s lots of talk about duty and “standing in the gap,” but the meaning of the actions is still much too elusive. I guess there’s the birth of a Celestial in the sun(?), but why is that important? After just a couple of pages, I felt just like Leonid when he said “Stop. Just stop being so cryptic and tell me what’s going on!” I gave this series a couple of issues for Jonathan Hickman’s scripting to get coherent and in the mean time was enjoying Dustin Weaver’s art. There’s one good double page spread that zig-zags down the open expanse, pulling your eye around masterfully, but other than that, I felt the art began to lose its initial charm. The script is still full of nebulous history that’s gone from intriguing to mystifying to disappointing. It’s just a bunch of people running around; I don’t know who they are, what they want, or how they’re trying to do it. It makes every action lose significance because I’m not intellectually or emotionally engaged by anything if I’m unable to grasp its basic level of importance. We’re four issues in and not much has coalesced. I think I might be out on this series. Grade B-.

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